Intellectual Property: Common Questions

Does the University own my course design, learning materials (worked examples, videos, problem sets, etc), or other forms of my intellectual property? 

Normally, no. As described in the University Policy on Intellectual Property section 2.3, unless instructors have entered into a specific written agreement with the University that dictates otherwise, any learning materials (including but not limited to videos, exams, problem sets, and case studies) that you create and upload to Sakai, or create and share with your students using other University platforms, remain your intellectual property. 

How can I protect my course materials from circulating without my permission?

The simplest and most effective way to maintain control over your course materials is to use University-supported platforms such as Sakai and Panopto  to host and share your materials. These systems require user-authentication and provide you with the most control over how students may access or share materials. For instance, as a default setting Panopto allows only authorized users to view a posted video and disallows downloads. These platforms provide you with the most security and provide students with a familiar user experience. Public sites and non-supported platforms are severely discouraged. 

You may wish to include a copyright notation or attribution license on learning materials you create and share, although this is not required. 

How should I communicate with my students about intellectual property and the use of course materials?

It is critical that you tell your students how they may use any materials you post or share with them.  Add a statement on the use and sharing of learning materials to your syllabus and reinforce it regularly. 

Are live class recordings my intellectual property?

Live recordings of class meetings are created to enable student learning (including later review for the purpose of study). As “transcripts” of instruction and engagement, generally instructors maintain some intellectual property rights in class recordings. However, because live class recordings normally involve student interaction, can reveal student identity and may include student ideas, students may also assert intellectual property rights. Students have substantial expectations of privacy in the classroom.  In order to maintain the privacy of the classroom, neither instructors nor students may share live class recordings outside the specific course community for any reason, without written consent of all parties depicted and of the University. Moreover, instructors must only use University-provided platforms and systems to record and host live class recordings.

If you record class meetings, it is critical to add a specific statement to your syllabus that describes how students may access and use class recordings.

Can I use other people’s intellectual property?

It depends. Copyright-protected materials (books, films, articles, databases) should be accessed through the Hesburgh Libraries or assigned as course materials for student purchase, as appropriate. Open educational resources normally should be available for your reuse, but do check the license agreement. If you wish to use courseware or learning materials developed for Notre Dame courses by colleagues, please seek the author’s permission. If you have any question about using other people’s intellectual property or third-party learning materials in your course, please contact the Hesburgh LIbraries.  Your College or School may have additional guidance specific to your discipline.

If you do not want students accessing online paid tutoring services or other forms of external learning assistance, add a statement to your syllabus.

Can I see sample statements that I could adapt for my syllabus?

Use of Course Materials

“Course materials (videos, assignments, problem sets, etc) are for use in this course only. You may not upload them to external sites, share with students outside of this course, or post them for public commentary without my advance permission. Please discuss with me in advance if you have any questions about this policy.”

Use of Live Class Recordings

“We are recording class meetings to support remote students and to provide everyone in the class with useful study aids. These recordings will be available to you to view through Sakai. The University strictly prohibits anyone from duplicating, downloading or sharing live class recordings with anyone outside of this course, for any reason. Violations of this policy will be handled according to the [applicable academic honor code].”